Back in 1999 Mel Gibson starred in a Brian Helgeland movie called Payback. Shot with a blue filter as the studio didn’t want it in black and white as originally intended, so the story goes. Anyway, in Payback Gibson plays a guy shot and left for dead, he survives and goes looking for the money he’s owed, taking on the mob in the process. It was absolutely made for him. A superb performance and a great movie. Is Blood Father something similar?
The movies sees Gibson, a very beefed up Gibson, as Link, a man not long out of prison who is now a tattooist in a trailer park. The walls of his trailer are adorned with missing posters for his daughter Lydia, played by Erin Moriaty (The Watch, True Detective). Lydia however, is off getting herself into all sorts of trouble by accidentally shooting her boyfriend who is working for a large crime lord. She is now being chased by him and plenty of other drug dealers who are trying to kill her. She phones daddy, he comes to her rescue and now the two of them are being chased by hitmen.
Andrea Berloff (Straight Outta Compton, World Trade Center) wrote the screenplay alongside Peter Craig (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, The Town) who also wrote the book the movie is based on. Behind the lens we have Jean-Francois Richet (Mesrine, Assault on Precinct 13). All three have done a great job of putting together a nice, fun film.
Gibson seems to relish the freedom these sorts of roles give him and he plays the deadbeat father trying to go straight brilliantly. Moriaty I’m a little less convinced by. Her appearance and mannerisms appear at odds with an apparent 17-year-old who ran away years ago, ends up with a bunch of drug dealers and also tried to kill herself many times when she was younger. She doesn’t quite convince me that she’s been through these things in the past or recently.
Diego Luna (Milk, The Terminal) plays Jonah, the boyfriend, and is good as a menacing punk who is ultimately out of his depth. William H. Macy (The Cooler, The Lincoln Lawyer) is Link’s sponsor as he tries to go straight and sober but we don’t get to see enough of him really.
There are some nice shots in the film, as much as you can have nice shots of desert and sand anyway. The dialogue is nice although there are occasions when Craig or Berloff (or both) have tried to cram a message into a ‘speech’ given by one character or another that doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the movie.
Perhaps the strangest thing though, is the editing. Now this could be direction from Richet or it could just be editor Steven Rosenblum (Braveheart, Blood Diamond) style, though given his editing credentials I’m going for the former. We, occasionally, see the same scene played out two or three times in succession. It’s taken from different points each time and so each time we see a little more. It’s not a bad touch, it’s just when it happens in the movie can feel a little jarring.
It’s quite sudden at first, and you aren’t sure if you’ve gone into the past or the future or the film has just gone a bit wrong. Then you realise what you’ve seen. I can’t quite put my finger on if it’s the suddenness that feels wrong or the timing…I’m not sure. But it doesn’t quite work for me.
Otherwise Blood Father is an hour and a half of your life that, if you don’t mind a bit of blood and violence, you’ll enjoy, I know I did.